Here, Arnold Riffle peeks through the heart-shaped target the girls shoot at during the competition. This picture was taken after the contest was over so no one got hurt in setting the photo shoot up. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

Life’s Reflections: The man behind the photos

GREENVILLE—Another year of working with Dennis and Shelley Soward during the Annie Oakley Shooting Contest is behind us, and once again, son Jamie and I had fun.

The Sowards, who have been in charge of this part of that even during the festival since around the mid-1990s, are fun people to work with.

Their two sons, Daniel and Sean, are there whenever possible and are the ones who generally pump the BB guns that are used by the girls in determining who will reign as Miss Annie Oakley for the ensuing year. New BB guns were used this year, it was noted.

Another person who is usually behind the scenes during the competitions is Shelley’s father, Arnold Riffle. I say behind the scenes because he’s the one who is putting the new balloons in position each time they are shot throughout the evening inside a little white “building” I would call a wooden shelter. Excuse me for not knowing the real term.

There are always three nights of shooting for this particular event; practice shooting on Tuesday, the preliminaries on Wednesday and finals on Thursday each year prior to the official opening of the festival.

Yes, it is Arnold, an 86-year-old man who works with the balloons and anything else that is involved in setting up and taking down when needed to make the show go on. He enjoys it.

He thinks he got involved in 2004, after the death of his wife, the former Judy Flatter.

He helped out when the contest was located at York Woods and now at the Darke County Fairgrounds.

“It is probably the easiest job,” said Arnold, who worked 34 years as an aerospace engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base before retiring. “Working with the balloons is now easier than it used to be.”

Arnold and grandson Daniel used to be involved in Farm Power of the Past and hooked up with the FOPA.

“We would fool around with tractors,” he said.

Shelley enjoys working with her father and pointed out, that having been an engineer, he is particular in what he does. And, that’s never a bad thing.

He feels safe while doing his job, indicating he has never been hit by a wayward BB.

Besides Shelley, he has another daughter, Melissa Young of Miamisburg, and a granddaughter.

It could be that I am related to Arnold as well. My mother’s maiden name was Riffell and he told me one time that his family name was once spelled that way, but someone changed it after an apparent disagreement over an unknown issue.

Oh. well, I can work with that.

Jamie and I extend our condolences to the families and friends of Jerry Bortner.
Please pray for these people: Randy Heck, Bob Drees, Michael Mowery, Debbie Mayse, Kenny Edwards, Judie Hathaway, Ralph Byrd, Della Burch, Ned and Brenda Wallace, Connie Buemi Hodson, Jim Kammer, Jim Marker, Randy Garrison, Steve Waymire, Warren Menchhofer, Kenton Turner, Gary Knick, Karen Hecht, Barbara Alexander, Randy Garrison, Jannie Barrow, Kathy Gragorace, Danny Foster, Dave Niley, Noella Combs, Clay Sheffer, Becky Everhart, Sharon Miller, Marie Rieman, Mary Bryant Arnett, Becky Oliver, Ronnie Young, Albert Duncan, Jayden Martin, Jeff Rider, Ralph Byrd, Stefani Priest, Steve Neff, James Enicks, Joann Freeman, Cathy Collins Peters, Donna Bixler, Vanna Hannam, Brenda Wallace, Linda Subler, Michelle Young, Roger McEowen, Jerri Barber, Sally Burnett Ganger, Rick Alexander, Gloria Hodge, Jeff Baltes, Cory Meadows, Denver Harter, Judy Hoffman and daughter Shelly, Cathy Melling, Scott Clark, and all of those who are suffering from other life-altering illnesses.
Happy birthday:
Aug. 2 to Ron Crist, Zane Keller, Diane Birt, Allison Dynes, Gloria Hodge, Melinda Bryson Frantz, Adam Cothran, Denney Heck, Mitch Eiting, April Staver, Kathy Hiestand and Mike Williams of the Winery
Aug. 3 to David Bryant, Sharon Miller, Scott Walters, Ethan Mann, John Gilliot, Joyce Wendel, Judy Brandenburg, Dorothy Miller and Nicole Arnett Rice.
Aug. 4 to Jerry Barga, Patty Fellers, Mark Shiverdecker, Adrien Lore and Cody Thwaits.
Aug. 5 to Todd Brumbaugh, Tara George, Adam Klipstine, Kim Klipstine, Terri Hall, Marilyn McEldowney, Joe Langenkamp and Carla Hill-Clark
Aug. 6 to Troy Gasper, Laura Hile Turner, Slug Widener, Tia rhoades, Renata Simmons, Cindy Lovejoy and Rita Leis.
Aug. 7 to Shelba Kelly, Erica Barga, Dave Fitzgerald, Allen Newbauer, Rick Hyatt and Hunter, Zoey and Hayden Burns.
Aug. 8 to Ty Gasper, April Billenstein and Matt Hiestand.
Happy anniversary to: Greg and Becky Harshman on Aug. 2 and Duane and Kelly Sanning on Aug. 4.

Think about it: “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude decides how well you do it..” —  Author Unknown

Arnold Riffle takes his job seriously when he's placing the balloons in the proper place during the Annie Oakley Shooting Contest during the festival. (Gaylen Blosser photo)
Darke County Now Staff - Linda Moody - Staff Writer

Linda Moody / Staff Writer

I am a Darke County native living in the Ansonia area with my son. I have been in journalism 50+ years and enjoy what I do.

Contact Darke County Now Media Correspondent Linda Moody @ or 937-337-1955.

Previous Oakley kin wins Annie’s Memorial Shootout

Get Daily Updates

[mc4wp_form id="228"]
The Darke County Now Logo with White Font

News, Media and Information for Darke County, Ohio.

News, Media, and Information for Darke County, Ohio.

Service Request

Useful Links

More Info